Is it irrational to want power and prestige for their own sake? I think a lot of people today (especially in Christian countries) would answer yes. But people from some ancient societies (like, Homeric Greece) probably would answer no to the question. Who's "right"? And why might there be this difference in opinion?

Aristotle argued that it is irrational to want prestige or honor for its own sake. Why? In the Nicomachean Ethics,Book I, Aristotle asks you to imagine yourself honored by people forwhom you have no respect and who honor you for attributes that you donot believe are particularly worthwhile (perhaps your fingerprintpattern (my example, not Aristotle's)). Would you value their honor? No, he predicts, you would disdain it. It would beworthless, unless perhaps your prestige in their minds gave you powerto do something that you thought was worthwhile. What, then, about poweritself? Is that valuable for its own sake? Well, let’s imagine havingimmense power. In particular, let’s imagine that you can make anybodydo anything you want her to do. But let’s imagine also that you can’tthink of anything worthwhile that you want her to do. Is your power ofany value to you in these circumstances? Again, the answer seems to be,no. Power is valuable only to the extent that it can be used to gainsomething else of value.

Read another response by Jyl Gentzler
Read another response about Rationality, Value